STEELEY FLIES AGAIN
First Published in book form in June 1936 - 250 pages
Also published in THE THRILLER magazine on 10th and 17th October 1936
with the two parts entitled ‘The Kidnapping of Virginia Marven’ and The Gangsters’ Stronghold’
The first edition dust wrapper showing the original price of 3/6 on the front flap. Note how the rear inner flap says “First-class fiction published for the first time at 3/6” and includes Johns “Sky High”
The original second edition dust wrapper showing the now lower price of 2/6 on front flap
The Latimer edition reprint dust wrapper showing the price of 6 shillings on the front flap. I believe this was published on 16th July 1951. (Isn’t this an awful cover?!)
And finally, the original French edition dust wrapper of “Steeley Flies Again” showing the title “Tout Va Bien” which translates as “Everything is going well” or “Everything is fine”.
Again, as with 'Sky High', the narrator, Eric "Tubby" Wilde, tells this story in the first person. This is rather a limiting way to tell a story as by necessity, Tubby has to be the main character at the centre of the action and in fact Steeley hardly features at all in this particular book. Until page 117 he is only in one short scene. A year has now passed since Steeley floated off into the unknown in a balloon at the end of the first book. Tubby and Brian Ballantyne have travelled to Paris to try out a new Puss Moth aircraft that Tubby has acquired. Finding a copy of a newspaper called the Continental Daily Mail, Tubby and Brian are intrigued to see part of it has been cut out. Their curiosity leads them to investigate what has been cut out and why. The article was about the kidnapping of an American woman called Virginia Marven. Enquiries take them to a French 'pension' where they are astonished to find the dead body of the man they were following. Minutes later they are staggered to meet Steeley. He is with a group of American gangsters lead by their ruthless boss 'Slick' Ferarra. Steeley says he knows both Tubby and Brian. Slick asks Tubby to shoot a woman called 'Blondie' whose boyfriend Slick has just killed. Tubby refuses point blank with some choice words to Slick. Slick decides he is going to kill Tubby but Blondie saves him by shooting out the light. In the confusion, Tubby and Brian manage to escape but without Steeley. The car they escape in has the dead body in the boot and when they crash into a bus, the corpse is exposed. Running off, Tubby resolves to go back to find out what has happened to Steeley. When he does, he finds the whole place deserted, except for Blondie. Blondie says she knows where Steeley is and offers to take Tubby and Brian to him. Taken to a remote French farmhouse being used as an airfield, Tubby and Brian are shocked to find Slick waiting for them! It's a trap. Tubby and Brian are clearly in big trouble. Slick offers them a choice. Work for him or die. Tubby won't take the easy way out and would probably have been shot had not the French police turned up with the bus conductor from the bus they crashed into and arrested both Tubby and Brian. Slick lets them go. Walking out of the farmhouse, one of Slick's pilots is returning and he opens fire on the French police. Tubby and Brian run and steal the pilot's plane and fly to the French airport of Bourget to pick up Tubby's plane. They land a few miles distant and walk the rest of the way only to find Slick and his gang already at the airport! Slick has chartered a plane and flies off followed by Tubby and Brian. On the journey, Tubby and Brian are sickened to see the pilot of Slick's plane murdered and thrown from the aircraft (an event depicted on the cover of the first edition of the book). They follow Slick's plane to a remote mine working in the middle of Dartmoor. Returning to Tubby's London flat, Tubby and Brian walk in to find Steeley waiting for them. Steeley explains everything. Virginia Marven, the girl who has been kidnapped, is Steeley's fiancée and he has infiltrated Slick's gang as a pilot in order to try to find and rescue her. Steeley says that the balloon he was in last year didn't reach France. He ditched in the Channel and was picked up by a Dutch boat bound for Jamaica. When they got to Jamaica, they rescued rich American Silas Marven and his daughter, Virginia, from their sinking yacht and as a result, Steeley got to know them both well. Accepting a job with Silas Marven, Steeley then went to the States to work as a pilot. After the kidnapping, Steeley resigned his job and took steps to join Slick's gang. Steeley forbids anyone from going to the police, as he cannot risk Virginia's life. He asks Tubby and Brian to give him seven days to return to the gang and only go to the police if he hasn't contacted them by then. The days pass without word and Tubby and Brian resolve to go down to Slick's base in Dartmoor. Tubby writes a letter to the police explaining everything and posts it. On Dartmoor, Tubby and Brian find a post box in the middle of nowhere that anyone can open. The idea being that as the spot is so remote, anyone passing can collect the post and take it onto one of the village Post Offices. Tubby looks inside and finds a letter from Steeley to him! The letter is asking for more time before the police are informed - but it is too late! Brian and Tubby explore the old mine workings and have a few shocks on the way. The following day, the police raid the place, having received Tubby's letter. There is a shoot out with the gang and they escape. Steeley had not been with them but arrives in time to try to chase after them in an aircraft. Tubby has already found clues to Virginia's whereabouts in a house at the mine workings. He believes that Virginia is being kept in a house in the South of France, on the Moyenne-Corniche road that runs from Nice to Monte Carlo, an area that Tubby happens to know well. Tubby and Brian fly down to the South of France and meet up with Steeley on the way. Identifying the house, Tubby goes and calls at the door. He finds Slick's wife, Flo there and she is holding Virginia. Tubby rescues her but Slick and his gang arrive before they can get out. A massive shoot out results. Slick is killed as are many of his gang. Tubby is wounded. He recovers in hospital where Steeley asks him to come to America to be his best man for the wedding.
Click here to see an advert for this book from the May 1937 issue of ‘Popular Flying’
Steeley Flies Again
Subtitle - none
Publication Details - originally published by George Newnes